“Are you okay?”
Victor stared into the depths of his coffee mug, a feeling of impending doom heavy on his chest. His mind being elsewhere, he didn’t hear the softly spoken words which might have releaved his unease. He tried in vain to recall anything of the disturbing dream which jolted him awake that morning, his heart pounding a mile a minute. As it was, though, he brooded and wondered what was coming. It wouldn’t be good, he knew that much. Oddly, as of last night he thought nothing could be worse than a ghost talking in his head and coming between him and Violet, but now…
“Answer her, damn it!” Richard shouted. “Or she’ll think you’re still mad at her.” For good measure he slapped Victor upside the head.
Victor started at the sudden, inexplicable jolt of energy—somewhat like a shock from static electricity-- upsetting his coffee and spilling it on the table.
“Oh, Victor!” Violet said, swiftly mopping up the mess with a cloth napkin. “You’re as jumpy as a cat. Didn’t you sleep well?”
“I…no, not really,” Victor replied, distractedly.
“What the hell you telling her that for? You wanna make her feel worse?” Richard snarled in his ear and he slapped his head again.
“Quit it!” Victor snapped, rubbing the side of his head.
Violet stared at him, hurt and stunned. “I’m sorry,” she meekly replied, biting down on her trembling lip.
“Great! Now you’ve upset her!” Richard growled.
“Violet,” Victor said, taking the cloth out of her hand and setting it aside. Then he took her hand and squeezed it. “Sweetie, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
“You’re still upset with me, aren’t you?” she asked.
“Didn’t I tell ya?” Richard said, smacking his head again. Now that he knew Victor could feel it, he liked doing it.
Victor clenched his teeth and thought a series of nasty curse words directed at the poltergeist in his head.
“I told ya I ain’t no poltergeist!” Richard snapped.
Victor smirked. “Of course not,” he spoke to Richard then swiftly turned to Violet. “Honey, I’m not mad.”
“I don’t believe you, not after last night and…”
“No, Violet. It’s fine.”
“She’s not buying it. Gotta do better than that,” Richard said.
“I understand, Victor,” Violet sighed. “I’m not a very good girlfriend. You ought to look for another…one more like Chenille.”
“Heaven forbid! Sweetie, if I wanted that I could just snap my fingers and presto, I’d have a dozen. That is definitely not what I want and you know it. No, that’s not it,” Victor said desperately. “It’s just…I had a bad dream just before waking up and…it kinda freaked me out.”
“Oh, Victor!” Violet said, her face full of concern now. “What was it about?”
“I…that’s just it. I don’t remember any of it,” Victor said.
Violet looked her confusion. “Then how do you know it was bad?”
“From the way it made me feel,” he said, absently placing his hand over his heart and rubbing it. He then looked around the dining room at the other guests leisurely having their breakfasts and planning their day, with no worries on their minds. It was plain irritating. “I don’t know how to describe it. Like… impending doom.”
Violet gasped and her eyes widened. “Oh, Victor! How…why…why would you feel like that?”
“Nice touch,” Richard admitted, rather reluctantly. “Bit over the top, making up a story this nutty, but at least she’s not upset anymore.”
Victor shook his head. “I’m not making this up,” he replied to the ghost.
“No, of course not!” Violet said. “Do you think it was a premonition?”
Victor shrugged. “It’s weird, that’s for sure. I never get this…” He paused recalling the same sort of thing happening very long ago. “Actually, that’s not true. I got it once before, when my father had a heart attack.”
“Oh, Victor, that isn’t good,” Violet said, clasping his hand in both of hers. “We have to think good thoughts.”
He blinked at her and slowly smiled. “Good thoughts? You think that will do it?”
“Yes, positive thinking always works for me. Wards off evil and everything!” she adamantly said.
He chuckled, and surprisingly that oppressive feeling of doom magically lifted, ever-so-slightly anyway. “Well, I know what works for me.”
“What?” she asked, her eyes as round and large as they would go.
He leaned forward and kissed her. “You. You chase away demons and monsters and impending doom and probably even the occasional poltergeist who likes to shock unsuspecting people making them spill their coffee.”
“Hey!” Richard indignantly shouted.
She giggled. “Are you saying there’s a poltergeist in Aunt Lucy’s bed and breakfast?” she said excitedly.
“I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute,” Victor remarked, a knowing smirk playing about his face as he glanced to his right, exactly where Richard stood.
For one stunned moment Richard thought Victor actually saw him, but then he realized he looked through him, not at him. “You are so gonna get it, Cowboy!” Richard snarled in his ear.
“Bring it,” Victor muttered to him.
“Bring what?” Violet asked.
“Uh…Breakfast,” Victor replied, relieved to see his aunt coming at last.
Lucy bore their food on two huge platters. The young girl following her with orange juice and a basket of muffins, gaped at Victor, almost drooling.
“You’re beautiful,” she mumbled, as she placed the items on the table, her eyes never leaving Victor’s face.
Victor, obviously thinking she was talking about Violet, picked up Violet’s hand and kissed it. “Yes, she is,” he replied.
Lucy rolled her eyes. “Winifred, please stop doing that,” she said, exasperated. “Try to maintain some dignity. If you continue to fawn all over every male in sight, you’ll end up like your perpetually pregnant and unmarried sister. Is that what you want?”
“Yes, Ma’am… I mean, no, Ma’am,” Winifred quickly replied, giving Victor one last look of longing and then swiftly scurrying away, back to the kitchen.
Violet burst out in uncontrollable giggles. “Ah, to be so desired,” she said to Lucy.
“Oh, cripes! Give the moron a bigger ego, why dontcha?” Richard groaned.
“What’s so funny?” Victor asked, completely oblivious as he reached for a muffin, splitting it in half and watching the steam erupt from the center. He took one bite and moaned with pleasure. “You never lose your touch, Aunt Lucy.”
“I should hope not!” she retorted indignantly. Then she smiled at Violet. “Did you have a good sleep?”
“Oh, yes, wonderful!” Violet replied, happily. “I usually have trouble, but not last night. Must have been the tea you gave me. Slept like a baby!”
“That’s nice,” Lucy said with a tiny crease between her brows as she glanced at Victor. “On the other hand, you don’t look so good, kid. Did Violet snore all night?”
Violet burst out laughing. “I probably did!”
“No, she didn’t snore, but she might have drooled a bit,” Victor said.
“Eeewww!” Violet said, pouting at him.
“So, tell me, what are your plans for the day?” Lucy asked and without waiting for a reply she added, “I think you should take the boat out onto the lake and have a picnic. Take some lovely pictures of the changing leaves. Show Violet how nice it is up here, so she’ll want to come back. I want you to show her a grand old time, Victor.”
“I already want to come back in summer,” Violet insisted.
Victor glanced at Violet whose eyes lit up hearing such a well-planned scheme. “Well, then, a boat ride it is,” he said, pushing away the dreadful feeling that something bad was definitely going to happen and could happen on the boat in the middle of a rather deep lake. He made a mental note to make certain there were plenty of life vests on board before heading out.
“Great!” Lucy said, clapping her hands together. “Just let me finish up with breakfast and I’ll have a basket full of goodies ready for you. Vladimir has the boat ready for you.”
Victor waited for his energetic aunt to move to another table and chat up the couple there before saying in a conspiratorial sort of whisper. “I get the feeling we didn’t have much choice in the matter. We were going out on the boat whether or not we wanted to.”
Violet giggled. “You don’t mind, do you? I haven’t been out on a boat since…”
“Since June,” he said, smirking.
“Oh, gosh, I completely forgot that! We went out on your boat with the angel kids. We had such fun,” she said, taking a bite of her omelet. “Hmm, this is so good! I’m starved today. I’m never this hungry in the morning, but I betcha I can eat everything here.”
“You barely ate last night. Chenille made you lose your appetite. Mine too, for that matter,” he muttered.
“Maybe your nightmare was about her,” Violet said, before she could stop herself.
Victor chuckled. “Then it’s a miracle I didn’t run screaming.”
“This is wonderful,” Violet sighed, looking all around as the boat easily cut through the water, a refreshing breeze tossing her long hair back. “I like the way Aunt Lucy thinks.”
Victor smiled. “I like that, too,” he said, slowing the boat to a crawl.
“What?” she asked.
“You calling her Aunt Lucy instead of referring to her as my aunt…as if you’ve known her all your life, as if she’s part of your family and you part of mine.”
Violet smiled. “She’s so sweet and…she makes me feel like family. I bet she makes everyone feel that way.”
“I suppose,” Victor said, turning in the captain’s seat. He reached out his arms and said, “C’mere.”
“Yes?” she said, taking his hand and allowing him to settle her on his lap. “What is it?”
“I just want you near me,” he said, kissing her. “I got you all to myself out here, at long last, and I’m gonna take advantage of it.”
Richard laughed. “Really, Cowboy? You think I can’t walk on water as easy as I can drift through solid walls and thick skulls? You truly aren’t too bright, are ya?”
“A man can dream, can’t he?” Victor irritably muttered in reply.
“Dream about what?” Violet asked, not for the first time wondering why Victor sounded so cryptic today. “You’re not still worried about your dream, are you? I told you, think only happy thoughts.”
He grinned and pulled her closer, nuzzling at her neck and making her giggle. “Yes, happy thoughts like this.”
“Excuse me I while I barf,” Richard griped.
“No one invited you,” Victor mumbled, before kissing her good and long.
“Invited…huh?” she asked, thoroughly confused until he kissed her. She quickly lost her train of thought after that.
“Happy thoughts are good,” Victor said. “Having you all to myself is better.”
“Silly man,” she said, breathlessly. “You had me all to yourself all night.”
“Yeah, I thought I did, but…someone got in the way,” he muttered.
“Hey, you idiot!” Richard snapped. “Don’t tell her about me. She’ll think you’re making fun of her and then she’ll get all pissy. Doubt you’d like that. Kinda ruin this nice time you’re having, wouldn’t it?”
Victor saw the wisdom in his words.
“You mean Chenille and Anders?” she asked. “I was talking about afterward, in our room when we were all alone. There was just you and me then.”
“And Jiminy Cricket,” Victor said, unable to stop himself.
She stared at him frowning slightly. “Your conscience, you mean?”
Victor grinned. “That’s the one.”
She placed her hand along his jaw, drawing him closer for a kiss. “Is that why you stayed away from me all night?” she asked softly.
Taken aback, he stared at her. “Me? You rolled away from me and hugged…”
“Don’t say it!” Richard shouted.
“A pillow,” he concluded.
“Well,” she said, her cheeks turning bright pink. “You could have done something about it.”
He gaped at her. “Excuse me? Didn’t you say I was supposed to keep you in a perpetual state of virginity?”
She made a weird face at him. “A what?”
“You know what I mean. What happened once was not to happen again. You told me to wake you if you did anything. Well, you didn’t do anything… blast it!” he said, grumpy as can be.
“You didn’t wake me. You should have.”
He scoffed. “Like I didn’t try.”
“Did you? How? What did you do?”
He grinned, remembering. “I stared at you, that’s what I did.”
“That’s it?” she said, both incredulous and disappointed.
“It’s a steadfast rule, when you have a naked woman in bed with you, you have to spend some time staring at her, all of her. You’re so beautiful, Violet, especially when you blush like you’re doing right now.”
“Stop it!” she whined. “You’re just teasing. You didn’t do anything.”
“I did!” he protested. “I kissed you, I had my hands all over you. For a minute I thought for sure you weren’t sleeping. You kept making sounds like you liked it, but you were out like a light. I just couldn’t wake you.”
She frowned. “That’s weird. I usually wake up at the drop of a pin.”
“No, you don’t,” he said.
“Too bad you didn’t have a pin,” Richard said.
“Ordinarily, I mean. Maybe Aunt Lucy put something more than just chamomile in my tea,” she mused aloud.
“You’re accusing my aunt of slipping you a ruffie?” he shouted.
She glared at him. “Of course not! It was probably valerian.”
“Is that a new type of drug?”
“New?” she said, rolling her eyes. “It’s centuries old, Victor. It’s a medicinal herb used as a tranquilizer and sleep aid. How sweet of her. She was worried I wouldn’t sleep, so she put it in the tea.”
“Sweet? I doubt you think so, huh, cowboy. She ruined your fun,” Richard said, highly amused at the scowl on Victor’s face.
“What difference does it make?” he snapped. “I wasn’t allowed to do anything anyway.”
“You’re not too bright, are you?” she said, with a sad sigh.
He glared at her. “That seems to be the general consensus today,” he muttered as a ghostly laugh filled his head.
“Victor, what we have here is a failure to communicate properly,” she said, cradling his face in both her hands.
“We talked for half the night. How much more communication do you think we need?” he asked.
Richard laughed again. “I do believe she be talking about the non-verbal kind, if you know what I mean. If you don’t, I ain’t telling ya!”
Violet sighed. “I thought the…uh…night gown thing would have been enough of a clue.”
“What night gown? You took it off, remember? You did it to torture me all night, I’m sure,” Victor grumbled.
“No, Victor,” she said, blushing scarlet, her hands dropping to her lap along with her eyes. “It was a not-so-subtle invitation.”
He stared at her, stunned.
“Dontcha just love those college educated idiots? They make you feel so darn brilliant!” Richard said, howling with laughter.
“Violet, let me see if I got this right,” Victor said. “You told me it couldn’t happen again, that you didn’t want us…that you wanted me to wake you up before you did anything like the last time, and now you’re saying…”
“I said I didn’t want to sleep through it again. There’s a difference. I thought that was clear.”
“As mud!” he shouted. “Damn, girl! Are you trying to tell me that if I ripped your clothes off right now, you’d let me make wild passionate love to you?”
Violet looked around. “Of course not! Not here in the wide open.”
He stared at her for a minute, then started the boat, turned it around and roared back to shore.
“Hey!” she said, bouncing in her seat. “You can’t…not now. It’s the middle of the day.”
“You think I care?” Victor shouted over the sound of the boat engine.
“Victor, stop the boat!”
He growled and shut it down again. “You’re killing me, you know that, right?”
“Yes, and I do apologize,” she meekly replied.
“Oh, Violet, what am I going to do with you?”
“You can spank me for being such a bad girl,” she said miserably.
His eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets. “Yes, please!”
She gaped at him until she realized what he was thinking. “Victor, that’s not what I mean.”
“Then tell me what you mean. Violet, please, if you care one whit about me, tell me what you want from me,” he pleaded.
“Tell her to use very, very small words, so you’ll understand,” Richard said, laughing hysterically.
“Shut up!” Victor growled.
Violet stared at him and said, “I didn’t say any…”
Just then his cell phone sounded with the theme from the wicked witch of the west.
“Oh, you meant the phone, but how did you know it would ring before it did?” she asked, equally shocked and impressed. “Victor, are you clairvoyant?”
“Of course not.”
“Think you are,” she said, her eyes wide with wonder. “Aren’t you going to answer the phone?”
“Forget that!” Victor said, impatiently. “Violet, tell me exactly what you want and I will do it. Please let’s go back to the room and I’ll do it real good…I’ll rock your world and do it until you make me stop.”
“Victor!” she said, blushing crimson. “That’s not…not the kind of thing to discuss right now.”
“Yeah, stop it already!” Richard snarled.
“Violet…” He growled when the phone rang again.
“Catherine’s calling and you should answer,” she said, trying not to smile too much. “I thought you said you were going to change that ringtone.”
“She calls so infrequently I never remember to,” he said, staring at her desperately. “Violet, please…”
The phone rang a third time and Victor cursed under his breath.
“Victor, you have to take this.”
“I’m not in the mood for her. All she does is yell at me, and I don’t need that right now.”
“You don’t know that for sure. What could she possibly have to yell at you about?”
“Ronnie. She’s just going to yell at me about Ronnie flunking out of school, as if it’s my fault. I didn’t want him going there. I knew it wasn’t the right thing for him, but did she listen?”
“Did he tell you he was flunking out?”
“No, I heard it from Rich…”
“Don’t tell her that!” Richard snapped. “You didn’t hear it from me.”
“That’s probably your premonition then. Not too bad if it’s only that,” Violet said. “Flunking out is far better than a death or something.”
Victor sighed. “You’re not gonna let me do you, are you?”
Violet smiled shyly. “Not until you find out what the wicked…I mean your wife…”
“Ex-wife,” he snapped.
“Yes, what Catherine wants.”
“Fine, I’ll call her back, but first…” he grabbed her and kissed her really hard…until the phone rang again, this time with Doctor my eyes.
“Somebody up there hates me!” Victor shouted.
“Don’t blame me! I don’t do phones,” Richard said, smirking.
“You have to get that,” Violet said, gently pushing away from him, putting her hand in his pocket withdrawing the phone and handing it to him. “I’m not going anywhere. We have all day.”
“Sure we do,” he grumbled, taking the phone, that feeling of impending doom stronger than ever now.